John Pusicz had worked as a conductor and brakeman for Conrail and Norfolks Southern Railway Company for nearly four decades before his retirement in 2008, and during that time he endured benzene exposure as well as exposure to numerous other harmful substances. After being diagnosed with kidney cancer and suffering other ailments, he filed a lawsuit against both companies as well as their insurance underwriter, accusing them of having violated the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA)and failing to provide him with a safe workplace. The case was recently settled out of court for an undisclosed amount of money.
The benzene exposure lawsuit was originally filed in 2017 in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, with Mr. Pusicz saying that he had been “exposed to excessive and harmful toxic substances, including diesel exhaust, benzene and/or asbestos while working as a brakeman and conductor for the defendants, in and around Philadelphia and Camden, N.J.” He blamed this exposure for causing or contributing to his cancer diagnosis and sought compensation for the damages that he’d suffered.
Benzene Exposure is a Known Carcinogen
Benzene is an industrial solvent and gasoline additive, and according to the American Cancer Association benzene exposure “is known to cause cancer, based on evidence from studies in both people and lab animals.” Pusicz’ lawsuit accused the companies of having violated FELA by having failed to provide him with a reasonably safe place to work, as well as to take steps to minimize or eliminate his exposure to diesel exhaust, as well as benzene and asbestos. FELA was originally passed in 1908 for the specific purpose of protecting railroad workers suffering from work-related injuries or illnesses. In his original lawsuit, Mr. Pusicz cited damages including “pain, suffering, inconvenience, irritation, annoyance, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life,” as well as his kidney cancer.